6. An Example of a Creationist Probability Argument

Now that we've seen how creationists typically operate, it's time to examine the phenomenon "in the wild", so to speak. A good example of a creationist probability argument can be found here . Here is an excerpt:

"In experiments attempting to synthesize amino acids, the products have been a mixture of right-handed and left-handed amino acids. (Amino acids, as well as other organic compounds, can exist in two forms which have the same chemical composition but are three-dimensional mirror images of each other; thus termed right and left-handed amino acids).

One would think that the formation of amino acids into protein would randomly use both left and right-handed amino acids and result in approximately 50 percent use of each. However, every protein in a living cell is composed entirely of left-handed amino acids, even though the right-handed isomer can react in the same way. Thus, if both right and left-handed amino acids are synthesized in this primitive organic soup, we are faced with the question of how life has used only the left-handed amino acids for proteins.

We can represent this dilemma by picturing a huge container filled with millions of white (left-handed amino acids) and black (right-handed amino acids) jelly beans. What would be the probability of a blind-folded person randomly picking out 410 white jelly beans (representing the average sized protein) and no black jelly beans? The odds that the first 410 jelly beans would be all one color are one in 2410."

Can you see how the creationist employs exactly the tricks we could have predicted? The formation of amino acids in living organisms is obviously non-random; why else would we consistently produce only left-handed ones in our bodies? Almost immediately, we see that he has confused a clearly non-random process for a purely random one: a trick he attempts to gloss over by noting that a totally different method for producing amino acids is more random (this is known as the "red-herring" fallacy).

"Ah", a creationist might retort, "but what about the very first amino acids? According to evolutionist beliefs, they weren't produced by living organisms!". That would be correct, but of course, it hides yet another baseless assumption on his part: that the very first amino acids were all left-handed. How could he possibly know that? He admits himself that left-handed and right-handed amino acids are functionally identical, so there's no reason they had to be. His only reason for this assumption is the fact that amino acids formed in living organisms today are all left-handed, and as already noted, that is obviously not a random process.

Here's another excerpt:

"Proteins are functional because the amino acids are arranged in a specific sequence, not just a random arrangement of left-handed amino acids. The formation of functional proteins at random could be likened to a monkey trying to type a page of Shakespeare using the 26 letters of the alphabet. Anyone knows that the monkey is not capable of accomplishing the task set before him.

What is the probability of synthesizing a protein with a specific sequence? Let us simplify the situation first. For example, if there are 17 students in a class, how many possible ways exist for them to order themselves in a line? It would take the students a long time to physically try all the possibilities since there are over 355 trillion different ways. If the number of students were increased to 20, equal to the number of amino acids that exist, the number of possible ways would be over 1018 different ways, the number of seconds in 4.5 billion years!

Remember: this is a simple example of a specific arrangement of 20 amino acids. The probability is even greater when we consider that there are 20 possibilities for each spot. Also, in a specific protein of 100 amino acids, or in the formation of a hemoglobin molecule which has 574 amino acids arranged in a specific sequence, the probability becomes astronomical!

If only one amino acid is changed in the sixth position, the disease sickle cell anemia results. The RNA within the tobacco mosaic virus contains about 6,000 nucleotides. The probability that this molecule resulted by the random chance arrangement of the four nucleotides is 1 out of 46000 or 2.3x103216!"

As one can see from this passage, creationists are almost entirely too predictable. This is really nothing more than the exact same deception he employed in the previous excerpt: assuming that organic chemistry has no rules and is completely random, even though we know that this is false. If you are observant, you may also notice that he assumes without explanation that the small number of amino acids we use are the only kind of amino acids that could possibly work, hence assuming that we're looking for the equivalent of a royal flush in poker. But how does he know the other combinations wouldn't work?

They wouldn't work in our environment because an organism needs to be compatible with the other organisms around it, but how does he know that in an alien environment, an entirely different set of compounds could not have arisen? In other words, how does he know we're looking for a royal flush instead of a triple, which is much more common? The short answer is that he doesn't; like the rest of his argument, it's nothing more than an assumption on his part, used in order to produce an inflated probability figure by heavily oversimplifying a complex situation.

Here is another excerpt:

"Life is not contained within a single protein, however. Several proteins are required for even the basic functions of the simplest living organism. Even the most simple known cell, such as the mycoplasma, may have 750 proteins. The list of proteins essential for survival may be narrowed down to 238 proteins. The probability of forming these 239 proteins from left-handed amino acids has been calculated to be 1 in 1029,345.

It is perhaps telling that he does not divulge the method by which he computed this figure, because it is almost comically absurd. He starts with the false 2410 figure from earlier, and he multiplies it by itself, 238 times. In short, not only does he falsely assume that amino acid formation in living organisms is totally random, but he assumes that every protein must have been created simultaneously, like rolling 238 dice all at once instead of rolling them one at a time. There comes a point where one must seriously question whether a creationist argument is the result of incompetence or deliberate deception, and this argument is fast approaching that point.

Are you starting to see how creationists abuse the concept of probability? Notice how they set you up by treating modern life and ancient life as if they are interchangeable (making assumptions about the most primitive early life forms based on modern life forms, even though the simplest bacteria is still the result of billions of years of evolution), and then they generate preposterously large numbers by deceptively combining many events into one and falsely assuming that organic chemistry has no rules and is therefore totally random. Also notice how incredibly simple their calculations always are; they make our poker analyses seem like highly advanced mathematics by comparison. So why don't you try examining the following excerpt for yourself, to see if you can spot the tricks and oversimplifications?

Many times we hear evolutionists using the term "primitive cell," although we have no example of such. One of the simplest living systems, the tiny bacterial cell, is exceedingly complex. Dr. Michael Denton describes the bacterial cell, which weighs less than 10-12 grams, as: "... in effect a veritable micro-miniaturized factory containing thousands of exquisitely designed pieces of intricate molecular machinery, made up of one thousand million atoms, far more complicated than any machine built by man and absolutely without parallel in the non-living world."

Our human body has over 200,000 types of proteins in its cells, and the odds of just one of those proteins evolving by chance is vast. Sir Fred Hoyle, still an evolutionist, likens this to a blindfolded subject trying to solve the Rubik's cube. The blindfolded man has no way of knowing whether he is getting closer to the solution or actually farther away. According to Hoyle, if the blindfolded subject were to make one random move every second, it would take him on the average three hundred times the supposed age of the earth, 1.35 trillion years, to solve the cube.

Out of the 200,000 proteins in our body, roughly 2,000 provided the very essential function of cellular metabolism, similar to that in a bacterial cell. The odds of those essential enzymes arriving by chance is extremely large, almost improbable. As stated by Drs. Hoyle and Wickramasinghe, "the trouble is that there are about two thousand enzymes, and the chance of obtaining them all in a random trial is only one part in (1020)2000 = 1040,000, which is an outrageously small probability that could not be faced even if the whole universe consisted of organic soup." This is about the same chance as throwing an uninterrupted sequence of 50,000 sixes with a pair of dice.

Rather amusingly, he actually uses the example of rolling dice in his argument: the exact same example we used earlier (complete with a working demonstration) in order to show why this kind of reasoning is incorrect.

So what did we see?

After perusing these kinds of arguments, it becomes quite clear that the creationist is utterly reliant upon the assumption that organic chemistry has no rules and is therefore completely random, even though this assumption is quite obviously false and essentially renders the entire argument invalid. It is also clear that creationists refuse to envision ancient life as being significantly different from modern life, which is why they always assume that the very first life form must have been something like a modern E Coli bacteria rather than a primitive self-replicating molecule. And finally, it is clear that the average creationist either does not know how to perform a probability analysis or is deliberately deceiving his audience.

Continue to (Entire article as one page)

Jump to: